What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this downloadable game for Xbox 360 and Windows PCs looks and is presented much like a storybook, but that its concept and themes might be a bit dark for younger children. The game’s hero, a little girl, is often afraid, lonesome, and sad, earnestly writing her nana about her feelings and worrying about the obstacles, animals, and monsters she sees in her dreamscapes, some of which cause her to scream in fear and even disappear if she bumps into them. Her grandmother responds with words of support and guidance, lending the game a warm, loving tone, but there is an inerasable feeling of darkness and danger lurking below.
What's it about?
LUCIDITY is an interactive storybook. It has a striking, collage-like art design similar to the style of children’s book artist Eric Carle (of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame) and a playful score in which meandering piano melodies, tinkling chimes, and the drawn out vibrations of stringed instruments are underscored by a ticking metronome seemingly meant to remind players that, despite their sublime surroundings, time is always creeping on. Lucidity begins with a cute little girl named Sofi visiting her nana’s house and reading her favorite stories. She soon falls asleep and begins to dream that she’s adventuring through these stories, collecting fireflies along the way. Unfortunately for her, the dreams slowly become darker, scarier, and more perilous. We are entrusted with keeping little Sofi safe, though we haven’t any control over her. She slowly skips forward, looking at the fantastical scenery surrounding her while we make sure she doesn’t run into obstacles --such as brier patches and forest animals that grow more monster-ish as the game progresses -- by placing items like stairs, bridges, and springboards in her path.
Is it any good?
Each of the game’s levels begins with Sofi penning a note to her grandmother that expresses her wonderment, fears, and, in some cases, sadness. Her nana responds at the end of each level with a postcard that offers the sort of comfort and advice that only a grandma can give. Bits of wisdom include: “Dust bunnies are just like problems, the longer you ignore them the bigger they get,” and “You can’t outrun everything. Think about the tick-tick of an old clock. Even after it slows and stops, time keeps moving forward.” It’s a beautiful, intelligent, and slightly melancholy story sure to be appreciated by mature children and young-hearted adults alike.
Unfortunately, the play isn’t quite as compelling as the narrative. The navigational aids players are fed come randomly, which means there are times when what we’re given is of virtually no use. We might, for example, be faced with a steep wall and have only horizontal wooden boards and slingshots to work with. Eventually, the game begins to feel more a matter of luck than skill, and it can be frustrating. It’s a regrettable blemish on what is otherwise a beautiful, inventive, magical experience.
Online interaction: Not an issue.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the relationship that exists between children and their grandparents. Do you rely on your grandparents for support and advice? Do you think that they can help you through difficult times? How do you think being a child today is different than when your grandparents were little?
Families can also discuss how storybook artwork meshes with an interactive medium like video games. Do you think Lucidity is a nice looking game? Did it remind you of any children’s books you’ve read? Do you think that it looks as nice as a more typical game rendered with three-dimensional polygons?